Book review: Shoe Dog
Review 6 minutes

Book review: Shoe Dog

July 6, 2020

Whenever a book begins with "I was up before the others, before the birds, before the sun", "Why is it always so hard to get started?" and "There were no cars, no people, no signs of life. I was all alone" it has my attention.

Being an early morning runner myself I know these feelings all too well. Most runs are in a sparsely populated area, on the other side of the lake I live next to. Especially in the fall and winter, when it's still dark out, it's only me and my light on the road for the majority of the run.

No spoilers here

The book I was reading is Shoe Dog, a memoir about, and written by, Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. It is superbly written. There is more suspense, it is more of a pageturner, than most non-fiction books I've read. I found it very easy to empathize and dive into the character as events unfold. Repeatedly I fiercely resisted the urge to look up certain events on my phone while reading in fear of reading spoilers.

Rest assured, this article isn't one of those summaries that students can use to for their book reports. I'll keep this article as spoiler free as possible. You'll have to read this one for yourself. Don't worry though it's worth your time. In the words of Warren Buffet (from his testimonial on the front of the book):

“The best book I read last year. Phil is... a gifted storyteller.”

Warren Buffet

That quote supports my opinion that the story is not only great but also told in a way that makes it even better. It is not simply a dry recalling of past events that tells the history behind Nike, but rather told in a way that is personal, intimate and perhaps even relatable. This memoir of Phil Knight is not necessarily a book just for runners. It does logically touch on it seeing how the business started with running shoes and only later evolved to other sports as well as other types of products, but it talks about many business and life decisions in general.

The book mainly highlights the story from 1962 through 1980, chronicling roughly one year per chapter. Finally it closes off with other events in one final chapter which covers multiple years from the more recent past.

"Nike athlete"

I'm glad Phil and his bunch found the energy, willpower and courage to overcome all the obstacles and challenges along the way. By sheer happenstance my first training shorts for badminton were Nikes, and when I visited New York with my dad we bought running shoes from the Nike store.

I didn't really have a preference back then, but from that moment on, I've only really bought Nike running gear where possible. The brand just felt nice and like a great fit for me, I guess.

So when I went to the running store to get a new pair of running shoes to replace my first ones, and asked for shoe advice, I told him "they have to be Nikes though". He looked at me funny, asked if I worked for Nike or something. I told him no, I just like the brand. And so I ended up with a pair of Nike Pegasus shoes.

Since then the Pegasus family has formed the basis of my running shoe collection. Their regular Pegasus is my everyday Easy- and Recovery Run shoe. The Shield variant helps in those moments when the weather doesn't. Finally the Turbo version is my goto for workouts.

I don't know if I'm taking away any valuable life lessons from the book for myself, but it was a very enjoyable read. And I sure know what my answer would be if they asked to sponsor me (you reading this Nike?!).

Koen van Urk